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RERTR
Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors
Nuclear Engineering Division at Argonne
U.S. Department of Energy

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Abstracts and Available Papers Presented at the
1999 International RERTR Meeting

A LEVEL-PLAYING FIELD FOR MEDICAL ISOTOPE PRODUCTION --
HOW TO PHASE OUT RELIANCE ON HEU

A. J. Kuperman
Nuclear Control Institute
1000 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 804
Washington, DC 20036, USA
Phone (202) 822-8444

ABSTRACT

Two decades ago, civilian commerce in highly enriched uranium (HEU) for use as targets in the production of medical isotopes was considered a relatively minor security concern for three reasons. First, the number of producers was small. Second, the amount of HEU involved was small. Third, the amount of HEU was dwarfed by the quantities of HEU in civilian commerce as fuel for nuclear research and test reactors. Now, however, all three variables have changed. First, as the use of medical isotopes has expanded rapidly, production programs are proliferating. Second, as the result of such new producers and the expansion of existing production facilities, the amounts of HEU involved are growing. Third, as the RERTR program has facilitated the phase-out of HEU as fuel in most research and test reactors, the quantities of HEU for isotope production have come to represent a significant percentage of global commerce in this weapons-usable material. Medical isotope producers in several states are cooperating with the RERTR program to convert to low-enriched uranium (LEU) targets within the next few years, and one already relies on LEU for isotope production. However, the three biggest isotope producers -- in Canada and the European Union -- continue to rely on HEU, creating a double-standard that endangers the goal of the RERTR program. Each of these three producers has expressed economic concerns about being put at a competitive disadvantage if it alone converts. This paper proposes forging a firmer international consensus that all present and future isotope producers should convert to LEU, and calls for codifying such a commitment in a statement of intent to be prepared by producers over the next year. With such a level playing field, no producer would need fear being put at a competitive disadvantage by conversion, or being stigmatized by pressure groups for continued reliance on HEU. The phase-out of all HEU commerce for isotope production could be achieved within about five years.


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Contact:
Alan Kuperman
Nuclear Control Institute
Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 804,
Washington, DC 20036

Phone:  1 202 822 8444
Fax:      1 202 452 0892
E-mail:  kuperman@bellatlantic.net

2016 RERTR Meeting

The 2016 International RERTR Meeting (RERTR-2016) will take place in Belgium. Stay tuned for further details.

2015 RERTR Meeting

The 2015 International RERTR Meeting (RERTR-2015) took place in Seoul, Korea on Oct. 11-14, 2015.
For more information visit RERTR-2015.

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Last modified on July 29, 2008 11:34 +0200